If you’re brave enough, this is a great way to beat the queues. Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority has confirmed trials of its manned Autonomous Air Taxi will start at the end of this year.
The RTA has signed an agreement with German company Volocopter to make the prototype two-seater air taxi. At the moment, it would be suitable only for short hops across the city, as the maximum flight time is approximately 30 minutes at a cruise speed of 50 km/h. However, if you’re really late for work, it can rev up to speeds of 100 km/h.
Powered by electricity, the ‘copter has 18 rotors, just, you know, in case, and is pretty compact, measuring two metres high. But the RTA has pointed out it does has “luxurious” interiors, which gives us some idea of what its price point might be.
Also fitted with a full aircraft emergency parachute, it’s equipped with nine independent battery systems and has a charging time of just 40 minutes.
And for any nervous fliers, the rigorous standards of the German Aviation Authority will be applied to its build.
Asides from the test, we’re not likely to see it in the skies any time soon. Mattar Al Tayer, director general of the RTA, says: “In the final quarter of this year, the RTA will launch the trial run of the AAT, and the experimental phase is likely to continue, with the follow up of the issuance of the legislations required to operate such a kind of vehicles for about five years.”
During the test the air taxi WILL BE manned, but is capable of flying on autopilot, “thus enabling the movement of people from place to another without human intervention or a need for flight licence holder,” adds Al Tayer.
The project is part of a strategy by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make autonomous transport a quarter of all journeys by 2030.